By Todd Robins /
It wouldn’t be far off to conclude that when it came to choosing people to hang out with during their leisure hours, RFK and Hoffa didn’t take Bob Dylan up on heading over to Bear Mountain for a picnic.
Something else was behind their conference in March of 1964, then, which David Talbot writes about in Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years.
The author doesn’t devote all that much bandwidth to the encounter, though it possibly aligns with what RFK was up to, under the radar, after November 22, 1963. Talbot’s premise is that RFK suspected his brother was killed by a conspiracy.
In the book, the event is viewed through the lens of Secret Service Agent Mike Howard, who on the day in question had duty at Jackie Kennedy’s weekend getaway in Virginia.
Early that morning, Howard and his partner were about to wrap up their graveyard shift. They were on the way out of the house when they ran into Bobby Kennedy in the kitchen, drinking coffee. He wanted to know if they’d be going past Dulles Airport. Howard told him yes. Kennedy asked for a ride.
RFK asked the agents to accompany him to a remote spot on the Dulles Airport tarmac. This was a place where private planes landed.
Kennedy walked toward a small plane. He told Howard and his partner to “wait right here.”
Talbot writes that as RFK approached
a fireplug of a man got off the plane followed by two hulking sidekicks. The Secret Service agents instantly recognized him: Jimmy Hoffa. To the agents’ amazement, Kennedy and Hoffa greeted each other and began conversing, as the attorney general showed a document to the Teamster leader, and Hoffa alternately nodded and shook his head. As the two men talked, Howard and his partner warily eyed Hoffa’s bodyguards: “One was built like a Green Bay Packer,” Howard recalled, “and the other wore dark shades and there wasn’t any doubt about what he had under both armpits—he was loaded.”
“We could hear Bobby and Hoffa talking, but we couldn’t hear what was being said.”
According to Talbot, no one knows what Kennedy and Hoffa talked about. The Justice Department had recently won a conviction against Hoffa for jury tampering in Nashville.
But Talbot goes on to say that “as investigative journalist Gus Russo has speculated, it might also have been about Dallas.”
*From Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, by David Talbot (Free Press, $18.00, trade paper, 478 pages).
Todd Robins (@ToddRobins2) is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Vautrin.